Force of Nature (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C.J. Box

Force of NatureReviewed by Allen Hott

Don’t spill the beans! All of us have been told that for years. Well, in Force of Nature C. J. Box does exactly that! After several books telling about Joe Pickett, the Wyoming game warden/ranger and his friendship with Nate Romanowski, Mr. Box tells exactly what the story behind Nate is. Early on Nate moved into the area and became close friends with Joe but others always felt that Nate had a questionable background. He lived all alone out in the woods although he did show up with a girlfriend in one story. But she didn’t last very long as someone who appeared to be hunting for Nate shot and killed the lady by mistake. Other than that Nate kept everything to himself and Joe was always careful in what he told Nate and who he discussed Nate with during his travels around Wyoming.

Force of Nature begins with a fly-fisherman getting bumped by a drift boat as he fished a stream. The boat appeared empty until he pushed it to the side and saw three lifeless bodies and quite a bit of blood. He contacted authorities and reported the find.

Somewhere shortly before that occurred Nate, an accomplished falconer, had been working in the fields with one of his falcons. But he had been interrupted by a boat with three local men who began a conversation with him that turned into a very different situation. And after that happened Nate knowing what would come next began his departure not only to get away from the trouble here but to try and figure what he would do about what else was about to happen.

Needless to say Joe gets dragged into the situation by Sheriff McLanahan who has never been a close friend of Joe or Nate. But McLanahan is faced with three homicides and also is in the midst of his reelection campaign so he has to do something not only to fulfill his duties but to also make his constituents think highly of him right now.

Mr. Box has put together a very interesting story of how Nate heads out into the mountains and even into Idaho because he knows who and where he has to get before someone else gets him. And at the same time Box weaves Joe and his entire family into the mix by having Joe get involved with a new trainee along with his normal duties. Joe also enlists his wife’s help in doing some research in her job at the library to find out more about Nate and what he is actually involved in or has been involved in.

Not only does the story move along really well with the right mix of dialogue and description but much of that description really paints a great picture for the reader of the rough mountain terrain when it is getting hammered with a pretty good sized snowfall. He also tells quite a bit about falconry and how it works. The author is excellent in telling a story with several plots and sub-plots but he also manages to do his job without needing to bring in sex or profanity. A really great read as usual from C. J. Box!

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